In a remarkable discovery, a pristine reef of giant rose-shaped corals has been found off the coast of Tahiti. The reef is thought to be one of the largest found at such depths and seems untouched by climate change or human activities.
The reef, which lies at depths of more than 30 metres (100 feet), probably took around 25 years to grow. Some of the rose-shaped corals measure more than two metres in diameter, Reuters reported.
“It was magical to witness giant, beautiful rose corals which stretch for as far as the eye can see. It was like a work of art,” French photographer Alexis Rosenfeld, who led the team of international divers that made the discovery, told Reuters.
Scientists first discovered the reef in November, and released photos and videos of their exploration of the reef last week. The reef, researchers say, is one of the largest and healthiest left on the planet.
The reef is located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Tahiti and runs for 3 kilometres. It’s especially visually striking due to its unique shape, resembling a massive bed of underwater roses.
Most of the world’s known coral reefs are in warmer waters at depths of up to 25 metres, UNESCO said. The reef off Tahiti lies in the “twilight zone” 30 to 120 metres below the surface where there is still enough light for coral to grow and reproduce, as per Reuters.
Globally, coral reefs have been depleted from overfishing and pollution. Climate change is also harming delicate corals – including those in areas neighbouring the newly discovered reef – with severe bleaching caused by warmer waters.
This discovery off Tahiti’s shores suggests there may be many more unknown large reefs in our oceans, given that only about 20% of the entire seabed is mapped, according to UNESCO scientists.
For more from trending, click here.